How to Choose a Well-Being Spa

by  Melisse Gelula | Apr 7, 2010
Couple relaxing at spa
Couple relaxing at spa / kzenon/iStock

Any magazine will tell you, luxury pampering is out. Prevention is in. My only problem with this healthy-sounding shift in spa philosophy? Lots of spas that are really great at the former are kind of feigning competence in the latter. The truth is, the number of spas that can really deliver a dose of well-being with your body scrub is small; and those that offer expert guidance in weight loss, stress reduction, or fitness is even smaller. How to tell? For starters, look for a dedicated spa cuisine menu and experts in fitness and nutrition. Here are few spas that meet the bar and then hurdle it:

Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa, Paradise Valley, Arizona: Because of its affluent zip code, this chic boutique-size spa has a following of supremely fit locals to its fitness classes. The yoga and Pilates instructors and the fitness trainers (who also lead tough hikes) are some of the best I’ve found in a resort-style spa, and the spa therapists seem to live (not parrot) a wellness philosophy.

Canyon Ranch Miami Beach: A weekend of a la carte wellness worked wonders here for me. Book one-on-one time with the top-notch exercise physiologist and nutritionist, then put their advice to work in the gym, in the unlimited fitness classes and lectures, and the spa cuisine restaurant. The structure without coddling (a different approach than the what you’d get at the Tucson and Lenox immersion spas) forces you to start developing skills that you’ll use to stay healthy at home.

Cal-A-Vie, Vista, California: It’s one of the most luxurious spots for fitness and weight loss. Personal attention is prized; there’s a 30-guest maximum. The very solid fitness, yoga, and Pilates instruction is customized, so it suits those who’ve never done a downward-facing dog and—a rarity—those who already have a regular practice or fitness regime at home.

Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa, Miami: Acquiring healthier habits is life or death for many of the guests here. The physician-lead, life-change programs (typically of a week or more) might include state-of-the-art tests for everything from cholesterol and diabetes to body-fat. The results dictate your appointments with the country’s leading nutritionists, sessions with fitness trainers, and other specialists.

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